Rut Busters: What do you see?

September 28, 2010

By Dave Huerta, VP/Associate Creative Director @ NYCA

In every agency it’s the same story. Buildings filled with problem solvers doing their best to meet shrinking timelines, while providing their clients with their freshest thinking.

As you can guess, shrunken timelines and fresh thinking don’t get along great. Let’s just say they’re not friends. They don’t even like being in the same neighborhood. And rarely will anything good come about when they’re forced in the same room, let alone brief.

So being the super smart and evolved communicators we are, we naturally kick into high gear. Faced with no time, our brains do a quick search of all the solutions that have worked in the past and finds the one that best matches the problem in front of us. (Probably has to do with some left over fight or flight issues.)

Anyway, it’s awesome for meeting a timeline. But not awesome for creating unique and effective work that addresses a unique communication challenge. It leads to patterns and ruts where you end up with the same solutions to completely different problems.

At NYCA we don’t like ruts. They’re not good for agencies or clients, so we’re doing an internal series of rut busters in the way of visual teasers, thought provoking questions and brain contorting challenges. Just different ways to keep our minds open and seeing problems from unexpected directions so we can continue to provide our clients with unique and effective grow! work.

And it’s not just for the creative department. The Rut Busters are for every NYCAer whether you’re the President, in accounting or part of the cleaning crew.

Who knows, it just might reveal which senior account person will be our next jr. art director or writer.

Here’s the first rut buster and what NYCAers’ saw.

What do you see?


For Goodness Namesake

September 20, 2010

Jobs strikes rockin’ deal for usage of trademarked Ping name

By Meghan Tetwiler, Brand Planner @ NYCA

Earlier this month John Solheim, CEO of golf’s well-known equipment maker PING, negotiated rights of its trademarked name with Steve Jobs.   Along with iTunes10 came Apple’s Ping, a social network feature that facilitates users’ ability to follow their friends’ music interests and interact with fellow music lovers.  While this news is certainly not music to every golfers’ ears, we are just going to have to get used to there being another Ping on the corporate block.

Word on the street is Jobs couldn’t have any name but Ping for his social networking music feature so he went straight to Solheim and worked out an agreement granting him legal usage of the Ping name.  Reading this bit of news got me thinking.  Isn’t the value of having a differentiated brand name worth putting up a fight?

As a brand steward it’s disappointing to see PING’s CEO and legal counsel not fight to hold onto the equity it has established in the Ping name.  And, as a Paul McCartney lyric enthusiast, my heart sinks a bit when I realize these days anything can be bought for the right price, especially if you’re Fortune Magazine’s CEO of the Century.

In the communications business, a great deal is invested to unlock the perfect naming combination for brands and products that are descriptive, evocative, memorable and completely trademark protected.  These trademarked names are safeguarded because they’re more than labels; in fact, I’d argue the heart and soul of a brand is a direct derivative of the meaning behind its brand name.

Too much of one thing is never good, I can just imagine how consumers’ relationship with brands might be altered if the world became saturated with brand name sameness? Even though music and golf are different industries, I bet a few Apple-fanatic-golf-novices might subconsciously pick out a PING club or two when they take to the course.

What might happen if someday there were a hundred Pings out there all vying for consumer attention?  For consumers’ sake, I am hoping this recent Ping name transaction is an anomaly.


Why I have the children and pets of NYCAers on my wall.

September 17, 2010

By Michael Mark, CEO/Creative Director @ NYCA

I have been told to take the cute pictures of the children and pets down, it’s too emotional.  And emotion can blur the ability to see and execute with great accuracy.  I can see that.

I keep the pictures of family members up because they remind me that decisions we all make affect more than what is right in front of us. When we are so focused on one thing we lose the concept of inter-being and the truth that we are all, and everything we do is, deeply connected. We must consider that our actions and words have an effect, often lasting. We must hold ourselves accountable. This is a way of living, thinking and acting mindfully. And that will keep us all on task with accuracy and compassion.

So the cuties stay.


The Harvester

September 14, 2010

By Michael Mark, Creative Director/CEO @ NYCA

He stands tall outside of our NY conference room offering his last food. His hand extending a bronze apple is a reminder of the power of generosity and the strength of our servant mentality. When the collective ego is in the goal of growing the business, this is not a sacrifice but a show of power. NYCAers are generous in spirit. Each fully offers their experience, their talents and passion to growing our clients businesses, growing each other, themselves, and the world around us. Hungry to succeed. Full of optimism. Always giving.


To find an idea, get lost.

September 10, 2010

By Michael Mark, Creative Director/CEO @ NYCA

I’m scared of the usual. I go out of my way to avoid it. So I’m perpetually lost. And I’m good with that. It’s why I try to eat at different places or never sit in the same chair in the conference rooms. Anything to give me a new perspective. New stimuli to react to. Anything to run me off the road of a routine and jab my senses awake.

The safe and well-lighted can be deadly attractive. But the need for originality has a greater power than the comfort of the known, and forces me into the gray. Off-balance is better than balance. I’d rather fall than stay still; I’d prefer to trip forward and land wherever. You have to live in-between, in the synapse, in the fog. Romantic, isn’t it? Yes, and we all love romance but there’s a danger: Will she kiss me? Will she slap me?

That’s the only way I believe you can discover a new way, invent a new road, what we at NYCA call a grow! idea. You gotta make yourself uncomfortable.

I actually like working on trains, planes, in the car. (You ever wonder how you got to where you’re going? Me too.) The motion pushes and pulls me, and my mind shakes free of the everyday. I might see something out the window, and that sparks something. I might hit the car in front of me and that makes me think something else. I might hear something on the radio and that makes me sing something. I might get off at a different exit – not wrong but unexpected – and that makes me see something new. I might not get to where I was going but I might get to a better place. And “I might” is what I’m after, not “I have” or “I did.”

So when my team tells me they’re lost, I know they are on their way. When I hear, “Oh, this assignment is easy,” I start getting tremors. Sometimes it is easy – the vision presents itself in a moment, and that’s great — but more often you bite into it and it’s fool’s gold.

You know that term “losing your mind”? I recommend it. The mind will tell you the rules, the mind will tell you fire burns or that is a bad thought. When you lose your mind, I think you lose your connection to the traditional – the acceptable way of doing something. And you can have originality – let’s call it temporary creative sanity. And what do you replace your lost mind with? A new idea, I hope. If not, get on a bus to anywhere.

So if you’re looking for a grow! idea, my direction to you would be to get lost.


Giving voice to the silent

September 8, 2010

By Michael Mark, Creative Director/CEO @ NYCA

On our walls we display the artwork of the people of St. Madeline’s Sophie Center. Those who created the paintings are gifted artists and developmentally challenged people.

They are never listed as one of our target audiences on our briefs. These people have little discretionary budgets. We don’t do research on them; don’t obsess over what will make them change their behavior, what their media intake is. We don’t create our stimuli to engage them and so we don’t listen to them.

And that is why we have their art all over our offices and why we have had these artists in our offices. Their work is beautiful regardless of who created it but it’s important work because of who created it.

It teaches us to hear all, to learn from all, to be there for all. We are transformed when we accept all the gifts we are offered.

To do that we must hear what is out of reach of our ears.

As you pass by the artwork on the walls, a plaque reads: The wonderful art you are enjoying comes to us from the gifted residents of St. Madeline’s Sophie Center whose mission is to empower adults with developmental disabilities so they can discover, experience and realize their potential as members of the greater community. Feel free to be inspired.


Spirit of Water

September 3, 2010

We freely follow the path that we choose

We fill the world with our laughter

We roll with the tide, we rise with the dew

We are the spirit of water

We create energy dancing or still

Movement is part of our nature

We heal the earth, we always will

We are the spirit of water

We are an idea stream

Trickling into a river of dreams

Roaring and rumbling down to a creative ocean

We rise up to the sky

As clouds we fly by

Pouring down rain we fall and we flood and we flow

And open the seeds so new life will grow

We bring serenity, peace from within

We melt the ice of the winter

A rainbow, a storm, a comforting friend

We are the spirit of water

© 2005  Guy Hufferd, Senior Writer, NYCA

(For NYCA on the occasion of their 3rd anniversary)

Water’s essence is fairness; transparent, lifting all, nurturing all, so much of us all. At NYCA we work in such openness. Vulnerability and innocence blend with expertise and frankness. Guy was inspired to write a song. The lyrics hang in a frame outside the New York conference room and permeate the ocean air that fills our home.